Environment

Environment & Planning

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

A controversial method of logging is being tested on a Bureau of Land Management forest in Southern Oregon. The idea is to remove trees in the same way nature does. It’s being touted as a model for the Pacific Northwest.

Critics say it’s just a new twist on the same old problem: too much logging and not enough environmental protection.

Steep hillsides slant toward a bright blue sky. This section of forest, known as the Buck Rising site, is a checkboard landscape. It ranges from intact forests, to stands of thinned trees, to clearcuts.

National Geographic

A fox found near a residence in Junction City has tested positive for rabies. It’s the first confirmed Oregon case of an animal with the disease this year.  Lane County Public Health says this is the first report of a rabid fox in Lane County since the 1960’s. The animal was tested and confirmed for rabies at the O-S-U Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Corvallis. Rabies, endemic in the bat population, is only rarely seen in foxes, especially in the U.S. It’s a viral disease, carried in the saliva of an infected animal, transmitted when the animal bites.

Eugene Passes Climate Ordinance

Jul 29, 2014
City of Eugene

Advocates of a climate reduction plan say Eugene is the first city in the country to put its carbon reduction targets into law. The City Council Monday passed the Climate Recovery Ordinance with a 6 to 2 vote.

The proposal includes a plan to reduce the city's output of greenhouse gasses, monitor progress, and requires the city manager to bring back a community carbon reduction goal. Councilor Alan Zelenka proposed the ordinance, but he credits young people for pushing for action on climate change.

Eugene City Council To Vote On Climate Change Ordinance

Jul 28, 2014
City of Eugene

The Eugene City Council is set to vote on a Climate Recovery Ordinance tonight. The proposal includes a plan to reduce the city's output of greenhouse gasses, monitor progress, and requires the city manager to bring back a community gas reduction goal. Councilor Alan Zelenka proposed the ordinance. He says the majority of Eugenians showed support for the measure during the public comment period last week.

Angela Kellner

The fire that destroyed a Springfield mill a week ago likely also caused a fish die-off in the nearby millrace.

Oregon Department of Forestry

The 93,000 acres of a state forest on the south Oregon coast could be sold to private timber companies.

That’s one option being considered by Oregon’s Department of State Lands, which says the forest drains millions of dollars from a trust fund that supports public education.

The Elliott State Forest has been a losing proposition for the state of Oregon. Annual management costs are about $3 million dollars more than what it brings in by selling trees to timber companies.

Update - Warning To Avoid Willamette River Lifted

Jul 20, 2014

Lane County Emergency Management has been notified by the Department of Environmental Quality the lab results for the water samples taken from the confluence of the Springfield Mill Race and Willamette River at Island Park down to Alton Baker Park do not show any past or present public health threat.  The advisory to stay out of the water has been canceled as of Sunday (7/20)  morning.

An abnormal number of fish deaths prompted the State of Oregon to warn people from eating the fish or going in the water Friday. The cause of the fish deaths is still unknown.

Earthfix

Bandon residents continue to have mosquito problem. Another round of larvicide was applied Sunday by air to a section of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

Residents living near the marsh started noticing a drastic increase in mosquitoes last year. Coos County officials approved the use of the larvicide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or Bti, to deal with the problem. Bti is designed to gum-up mosquito's digestive systems after they hatch but before they become adults. Environmental Health Manager Rick Hallmark says the timing of a Bti application is crucial.

The Oso Mudslides: Lessons For Oregon

Jul 14, 2014

Meeting Date: July 11, 2014

Air Date: July 14, 2014

Landslides are intrinsic to the geology of the Pacific Northwest. Many natural features of this region resulted from slides triggered by weather or seismic activity. Less than 4 months ago, about 350 miles from Eugene, a massive landslide was hard to miss.

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund has been distributing money to the states for 50 years. Last week, Governor Kitzhaber announced Oregon's 2014 allocation.

Oregon will receive over 650 thousand dollars this year, to be used to acquire land and develop outdoor recreation areas. The amount is on par with funding over the past few years. Chris Havel is with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. He says the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been remarkably long-lived, supporting thousands of projects over the years.

Chelan County Emergency Management

Crews battling wildfires in eastern Washington and southeastern Oregon are dealing with sizzling hot temperatures not just from flames, but also a general heat wave. Correspondent Tom Banse reports firefighters are gaining ground this weekend despite the wilting heat. Four out of the five largest fires are nearly 100 percent contained.

Coos County Controls Summer Mosquito Populations

Jul 9, 2014
Napa County Mosquito Abatement District

Residents living near the Bandon Marsh on the southern coast were plagued by thousands of biting mosquitoes last summer. It’s getting better. After public pressure, officials have reduced the bug population.

The number of Aedes dorsalis mosquitoes in the Bandon Marsh area is significantly lower than last year. But Coos County’s environmental health program manager Rick Hallmark says the numbers have been increasing lately. Just a few weeks ago there were only 10 to 15 in each trap.

Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz / Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the U-S Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to California’s clean fuel law. Supporters of the law – and of similar efforts in Oregon and Washington – say the high court’s decision clears the way for the West Coast to take the lead in reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. But opponents in the petroleum industry say the law is still a bad idea.

Cascadia Forest Defenders

Updated: 7:20pm

Three people were arrested at a protest yesterday at the Seneca-Jones Biomass plant in north Eugene.  The Lane County Sheriff's Office says about 100 people gathered outside the facility to oppose the bio-mass operation and the company's plans to log old growth trees in southwest Oregon.  

Michael Werner

Crude oil shipments by rail increased by more than 80 percent, nationally, last year.
Most of it is coming from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That crude is more flammable than other types of oil, and has been shown to catch fire and explode when trains derail. More than 15 trains of Bakken oil move through some parts of the Northwest each week, en route to refineries and terminals in Washington and Oregon. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway transports the majority of that oil.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

Much of the West is entering a second straight summer of drought. In Southern Oregon’s Klamath Basin, ranchers are once again watching their pastureland go dry for a lack of water. That has them preparing to sell their livestock earlier – and for lower prices – than they’d like.

Those ranchers are part of an unlikely alliance that could lead to a historic solution to the region’s long-standing water wars.

Watermaster Scott White has a difficult job. He’s the one who tells ranchers to turn off the water they use for cattle and crops.

Katie Campbell / Earthfix

On the west coast sea stars, or starfish, are dying by the millions. Scientists have called the disease Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, and it’s decimated populations from Mexico to Alaska. But scientists aren’t exactly sure what’s causing the die-off. This spring, the epidemic has spread into Oregon, and now, Hood Canal and the San Juan Islands in Washington.

The village of Eastsound on Orcas Island draws thousands of tourists in the summer months. They come to see whales, bald eagles… and for avid beach combers -- sea stars.

Courtney Flatt

When you think of grapes in the Northwest, wine is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But Concord juice grapes actually are Washington’s most widely planted grape. It turns out, juice grapes are more susceptible to warming weather than their wine grape cousins.

The sun beats down as researcher Markus Keller leans in to inspect his experimental concord grape vineyard.

Keller: “As you can see here, there’s a lot of flowers forming on the different shoots.”

The grape leaves hang down like a curtain over the rows of vines. This year’s crop looks to be strong.

Beyond Toxics

After bee die-offs this month in Eugene and Beaverton, the Oregon Agriculture Department is placing a 6 month ban on pesticides containing two active ingredients that are dangerous to the insects. 

 

Rachael McDonald

The McKenzie River Trust is embarking on a project to turn gravel beds into native fish habitat on its Green Island property north of Eugene. The project brings together two unexpected partners: conservationists and the gravel industry.

The Coburg Aggregate Reclamation Project, or CARP, is at a place along the historic McKenzie River channel where gravel was mined for many years. Now, three ponds are the remnants of that mining operation. Joe Moll is Executive Director of McKenzie River Trust.

Rachael McDonald

A national report released Wednesday finds that half of the plants sold at major retailers as "bee friendly" are actually poisonous to bees. The plants are pre-treated with pesticides that are harmful to pollinators according to the study by Friends of the Earth.

Neonicotinoids are pesticides that kill bees and other pollinators. Lisa Arkin is with Eugene-based Beyond Toxics. She says retailers don't label plants to indicate whether they've been treated with these chemicals.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Rogue River in Southern Oregon welcomes a busy summer season of rafters, kayakers and fishers.

For EarthFix, Devan Schwartz reports on a proposed expansion of the Rogue Wilderness — and why it’s taking so long to become a reality.

The Rogue is one of the West’s most iconic rivers. And many conservationists are calling for Congress to expand the wilderness area surrounding it.

Robyn Janssen is with Rogue Riverkeeper. She helped organize a recent trip down the Rogue to highlight the river’s environmental issues.

Eugene Company's License Suspended Following Bee Deaths

Jun 20, 2014
victoriaaft.com

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has suspended the license of the company responsible for more than 1,000 bee deaths earlier this week in Eugene. Glass Tree Care and Spray Service applied pesticides at an apartment complex in North Eugene on 17 linden trees, the same types of trees involved in thousands of bee deaths last year in Oregon. Bruce Pokarney is the Communication Director for the ODA. He says before the company can resume applying pesticides they must adhere to certain conditions.

Wikipedia

Oregon's industrial facilities dumped more than 1 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the state's waterways in 2012. In a new report, Environment Oregon ranks the state 33rd worst in the nation for water pollution.

Cassandra Profita / Earthfix

Some Portland brewers have a challenge for you. Can you taste the forest in their beer? Is it an old growth forest or one that's been logged? They’ve been collecting wild yeast from both types of forest and using it to ferment some beer. EarthFix reporter Cassandra Profita joined a recent hiking group that tasted the results.

Wagoner: "Alright, let's stop right here."

Matt Wagoner of the Forest Park Conservancy, is leading a hike through a little known parcel of old growth forest. It's about 20 minutes from downtown Portland.

Oregon Wild

The recent discovery of Oregon's wandering wolf, known as OR-7, and his new pups is one reason a conservation group filed a lawsuit against a logging project near Crater Lake National Forest. Oregon Wild filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service in District Court in Medford Wednesday.

Do you kayak, canoe or paddle? The Oregon State Marine Board is looking for input from non-motorized boaters. They’ve been on the road since early June and are in Eugene today (Tuesday) and in Bend Thursday.

Scott Brewen is a director with the Oregon State Marine Board. He says for the first time in the state’s history, non-motorized boating is more popular than motor-boating:

Brewwen: “In all different types of boating from flat water to white water, kayaking, canoes, stand up paddleboard, we’re seeing growth in all areas so it’s pretty exciting.”

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

A prolonged drought is putting pressure on water supplies for the Klamath Basin’s wildlife refuges. EarthFix’s Devan Schwartz reports on how the nation’s original waterfowl refuge may be too dry this summer to provide a stopover for millions of migratory birds. It's part two in our series, Refuges in Trouble.
 

In 1908, Teddy Roosevelt designated the Lower Klamath Lake refuge to protect millions of migrating birds.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

What could be the largest carp removal project in history is underway at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Oregon.

EarthFix’s Devan Schwartz reports on the attempts to curb the invasive fish that has destroyed bird habitat for decades.

Minnesota fishermen are pulling in thousands upon thousands of carp from Malheur Lake, the main feature of the national wildlife refuge.

Tim Adams tosses carp from net to boat.

This weekend is the last chance for backyard and open burning in many places in Oregon. Lane, Linn, Benton and Marion Counties have all declared June 15 as the last day.

Neil Miller is with the Oregon Department of Forestry. He says early this year, they considered starting the burn ban sooner than usual. But spring rains relieved their concerns about fire danger:

Pages